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Yoshiko Uchida has written more than twenty-five books for children, including A Jar of Dreams and The Best Bad Thing. Many of Ms. Uchida's writings are inspired by her Japanese-American heritage. During World War II, she and her family were forced to live in West Coast internment camps. It is in this experience that The Bracelet is based.
Gr 2-5-It is 1942, and seven-year-old Emi is being sent from her home in Berkeley, California, to an internment camp with her mother and older sister. Her father was arrested earlier and incarcerated in a camp in Montana. Temporarily herded into stables at a race track with other Japanese-American families, Emi realizes that she has lost the bracelet that her best friend, Laurie Madison, gave her as a parting keepsake. At first desolate, she soon realizes that she does not need the token after all, as she will always carry Laurie in her heart and mind. Uchida employs a simple, descriptive style, allowing the child's feelings to give punch to this vignette without becoming sentimental. An afterword gives brief, dignified historical context to the story. Yardley's watercolor illustrations both match and amplify the text at every point, evincing the greatest sensitivity to the depiction of character and to historical accuracy. This deceptively simple picture book will find a ready readership and prove indispensable for introducing this dark episode in American history.-John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
The haunting immediacy of this moving tale may derive from its roots in Uchida's ( A Jar of Dreams ; The Best Bad Thing ) own childhood experiences--the author was interned in camps for Japanese Americans during WW II. Originally published as a short story, the book opens as Emi, her mother and sister prepare to leave their California home for a new residence: a racetrack that has been turned into a prison camp. Emi's best friend brings her a bracelet as a parting gift. Though Emi vows she will never take it off, the gold chain slips off her wrist as the girl helps clean out the filthy, abandoned stable that will serve as the family's ``apartment.'' After searching for it in vain, Emi eventually realizes that she does not need the bracelet to remember her friend, just as she does not need a photo to remember her father (who has been sent to a prisoner-of-war camp because he worked for a Japanese company); in her mother's words, such important parts of our lives ``we carry in our hearts and take with us no matter where we are sent.'' Yardley's ( The Red Ball ) hushed, realistic paintings add to the poignancy of Uchida's narrative, and help to underscore the absurdity and injustice suffered by Japanese American families such as Emi's. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
Praise for The Bracelet * "Yardley's hushed, realistic paintings add to the poignancy of Uchida's narrative, and help to underscore the absurdity and injustice suffered by Japanese American families such as Emi's."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Will find a ready readership and prove indispensable for introducing this dark episode in American history"--School Library Journal "A poignant story sensitively told and illustrated."--Children's Literature